Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt (Over and Under)

by Kate Messner (Author) Christopher Silas Neal (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Series: Over and Under
In this exuberant and lyrical follow-up to the award-winning Over and Under the Snow, discover the wonders that lie hidden between stalks, under the shade of leaves . . . and down in the dirt. Explore the hidden world and many lives of a garden through the course of a year! Up in the garden, the world is full of green--leaves and sprouts, growing vegetables, ripening fruit. But down in the dirt exists a busy world--earthworms dig, snakes hunt, skunks burrow--populated by all the animals that make a garden their home.
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School Library Journal

Gr 1-3--Beneath every garden lies a secret world down in the dirt. In this enchanting follow-up to Over and Under the Snow (Chronicle, 2011), Messner explores that underground realm. This yearlong adventure begins early in spring, with a young girl learning from her grandmother that the soil is still too cold and wet to begin planting. The pair make plans while earthworms and insects work in the dirt. As the year goes by, they tend to the garden, weeding, watering, and keeping away pests, and later harvesting vegetables. The illustrations are marked by rich brown earth tones, highlighted by brighter colors here and there (a red wheelbarrow, yellow boots) as the seasons reveal themselves slowly. Spreads detail the often unseen life all around the garden, such as a praying mantis that eats mosquitoes, pill bugs that chew through leaves, honeybees that pollinate flowers, and a garter snake that hunts grasshoppers. Neal effectively uses light and dark to show the contrast between night and day; an image of foraging rabbits by day is eventually replaced by a nighttime scene of skunks "[working] the night shift." Each page invites readers to linger over the quiet text, which gently moves the story along. Back matter includes an author's note and a complete listing of the many creatures mentioned throughout. VERDICT A beautiful, informative addition to any collection.--Frances E. Millhouser, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA

Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"This beautifully illustrated work shines a light on life beneath the surface."—Modern Luxury: Manhattan
Kate Messner
Kate Messner is passionately curious and writes books for kids who like to wonder. A former teacher, she has written more than thirty picture books, chapter books, and novels for young readers. Kate Messner lives on Lake Champlain with her family.

Heather Ross is an illustrator and fabric designer. She lives in New York City and the Catskill Mountains.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Chronicle Books
Publication date
March 03, 2015
Over and Under
BISAC categories
JNF051000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Science & Nature | General
JNF022000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Gardening
Library of Congress categories
Giverny Award
Winner 2015 - 2015

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